Purple Rain (album)

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Purple Rain
Studio album / Soundtrack album by Prince and The Revolution
Released June 25, 1984 (1984-June-25)
Recorded August 1983 – March 1984
Studio First Avenue
(Minneapolis, Minnesota)
The Warehouse
(St. Louis Park, Minnesota)
Record Plant
(Los Angeles, California)
Sunset Sound
(Hollywood, California)
Length 43:51
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Prince and The Revolution
Prince chronology
Purple Rain
Around the World in a Day
Singles from Purple Rain
  1. "When Doves Cry"
    Released: May 9, 1984
  2. "Let's Go Crazy"
    Released: July 18, 1984
  3. "Purple Rain"
    Released: September 26, 1984
  4. "I Would Die 4 U"
    Released: November 28, 1984
  5. "Take Me with U"
    Released: January 25, 1985

Purple Rain is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Prince, the first to feature his backing band The Revolution, and is the soundtrack album to the 1984 film of the same name. It was released on June 25, 1984 by Warner Bros. Records. To date, it has sold over 22 million copies worldwide, making it the sixth-best-selling soundtrack album of all time.[1]

Purple Rain is regularly ranked among the best albums in music history, and is widely regarded as Prince's magnum opus. Time magazine ranked it the 15th greatest album of all time in 1993, and it placed 18th on VH1's Greatest Rock and Roll Albums of All Time countdown. Rolling Stone ranked it the second-best album of the 1980s and 76th on their list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". The first two singles from Purple Rain, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy", topped the US singles charts, and were hits around the world, while the title track went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified thirteen-times platinum (diamond) by the RIAA.[2]

In 2007, the editors of Vanity Fair labeled it the best soundtrack of all time, and Tempo magazine named it the greatest album of the 1980s.[3] The 1,000th issue of Entertainment Weekly dated July 4, 2008, listed Purple Rain at number one on their list of the top 100 best albums of the past 25 years.[4] In 2013, the magazine also listed the album at number two on their list of the 100 Greatest Albums ever.[5] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #2 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" behind only Michael Jackson's Thriller.[6] In the same year, the album was added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important".[7]


Purple Rain was released by Warner Bros. Records on June 25, 1984. Prince wrote all of the songs on the album, some with the input of fellow band members. "I Would Die 4 U", "Baby I'm a Star" and "Purple Rain" were recorded live from a show on August 3, 1983, at the First Avenue club in Minneapolis, with overdubs and edits added later. This marked the first time Prince included live recordings on any release.[8] The show was a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theater and featured the first appearance of guitarist Wendy Melvoin in Prince's band, The Revolution.

"Take Me with U" was intended for the Apollonia 6 album, a full band recording with the Revolution and Jill Jones on backing vocals, but Prince pulled it for his own album. "Let's Go Crazy" was also recorded with The Revolution while an unreleased version of "Computer Blue" clocking in at 14 minutes was a full band studio recording as well with various cuts some that are at least 14min long, but the final version of that song only featured Prince, Wendy and Lisa.[9] "The Beautiful Ones", "Darling Nikki" and "When Doves Cry" are all Prince recordings.


Purple Rain was the first Prince album recorded with and officially credited to his backing group The Revolution. The resulting album was musically denser than Prince's previous one-man albums, emphasizing full band performances, and multiple layers of guitars, keyboards, icy electronic synthesizer effects, drum machines, and other instruments. Musically, Purple Rain remained grounded in the R&B elements of Prince's previous work while demonstrating a more pronounced rock feel in its grooves and emphasis on guitar showmanship.

As a soundtrack record, much of the music had a grandiose, synthesized, and even—by some evaluations—a psychedelic sheen to the production and performances. The music on Purple Rain is generally regarded as the most pop-oriented of Prince's career, though a number of elements point towards the more experimental records Prince would release after Purple Rain. As with many massive crossover albums, Purple Rain's consolidation of a myriad of styles, from pop rock to R&B to dance, is generally acknowledged to account in part for its enormous popularity.

In addition to the record's breakthrough sales, music critics noted the innovative and experimental aspects of the soundtrack's music, most famously on the spare, bass-less "When Doves Cry".[10] Other aspects of the music, especially its synthesis of electronic elements with organic instrumentation and full-band performances (some, as noted above, recorded live) along with its landmark consolidation of rock and R&B, were identified by critics as distinguishing, even experimental factors. Stephen Erlewine of AllMusic writes that Purple Rain finds Prince "consolidating his funk and R&B roots while moving boldly into pop, rock, and heavy metal," as well as "push[ing] heavily into psychedelia" under the influence of the Revolution.[11] Erlewine identifies the record's nine songs as "uncompromising...forays into pop" and "stylistic experiments", echoing general sentiment that Purple Rain's music represented Prince at his most popular without forsaking his experimental bent.[11]

"Take Me with U" was written for the Apollonia 6 album, but later enlisted for Purple Rain.[12] The inclusion of that song necessitated cuts to the suite-like "Computer Blue", the full version of which did not earn an official release, although a portion of the second section can be heard in the film Purple Rain, in a sequence where Prince walks in on the men of The Revolution rehearsing. The risqué lyrics of "Darling Nikki" contributed to the use of Parental Advisory stickers and imprints on album covers that were the record label's answer to complaints from Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center.[13][14][15]

"There's every emotion from the ballad to the rocker," observed Jon Bon Jovi. "All the influences were evident, from Hendrix to Chic."[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[11]
Blender 4/5 stars[17]
Christgau's Record Guide A–[18]
Entertainment Weekly B[19]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[20]
MusicHound Rock 4.5/5[21]
Pitchfork 10/10[22]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[24]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 9/10[25]

Prince won two Grammy Awards in 1985 for Purple Rain, for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special, and the album was nominated for Album of the Year. Prince won a third Grammy that year for Best Rhythm and Blues Song (songwriter award) for Chaka Khan's cover of "I Feel for You". Purple Rain also won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985.

Purple Rain sold 13 million units in the United States, including 1.5 million in its debut week,[26] earning a Diamond Award from the Recording Industry Association of America. According to Billboard magazine, the album spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard albums chart (August 4, 1984 to January 18, 1985), becoming one of the top soundtracks ever. Purple Rain traded the #1 album chart position with Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. twice, during 1984 and 1985. The album has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.[1] The album further established him as a figurehead for pop music of the 1980s. The album sold 69,000 equivalent copies (62,000 in pure album sales) in the week following Prince's death,[27] thus allowing the album to re-enter the Billboard 200 at number 2.[28]

Singles from the album became pop hits worldwide, with Prince scoring four US Top 10 singles from the album. Of them, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" reached #1, "Purple Rain" reached #2, and "I Would Die 4 U" reached #8. The fifth and final single "Take Me with U" reached #25, but became a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, meaning all Purple Rain singles became worldwide hits.


Purple Rain is generally ranked as one of the greatest albums in music history, and is regarded as Prince's masterpiece[by whom?]. All five singles off of the album became worldwide hits, and with the success of the massively successful movie of the same name and tour, Prince would become arguably the biggest musical superstar on the planet, next to Michael Jackson. Rolling Stone ranked Purple Rain at #76 on the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and at #2 on the 100 Best Albums of The 80s.[29][30] In June 2013, Entertainment Weekly listed Purple Rain at #2 of the Greatest Albums of All Time. According to Billboard magazine, Purple Rain stayed at #1 on the Billboard 200 for 24 consecutive weeks, the 4th longest in the charts history. Purple Rain sold over 1.5 million copies its first week in stores, and has sold over 13 million copies in the United States alone, with a total of 25 million copies sold worldwide.[31][32] In 2011, Purple Rain was added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry list of recordings that "are culturally, historically, and aesthetically important".[33] In April 2016, the album re-charted at #2 on the Billboard 200 after Prince's death, selling over 69,000 copies in the following week.[34] According to Billboard, within less than a month after Prince's death, four of the top ten songs on the Hot Rock Songs belonged to tracks off of Purple Rain, with the title track coming in at #1.[35] In October 2016, according to Billboard, it has been confirmed that Purple Rain will be re-released as a deluxe edition, although the exact content of this has not been confirmed.[36]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Prince except "Computer Blue" by Prince, John L. Nelson, Wendy & Lisa and Dr. Fink (uncredited).

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Let's Go Crazy" (Prince and The Revolution) 4:39
2. "Take Me with U" (Prince and The Revolution) 3:54
3. "The Beautiful Ones" (Prince) 5:13
4. "Computer Blue" (Prince and The Revolution) 3:59
5. "Darling Nikki" (Prince) 4:14
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "When Doves Cry" (Prince) 5:54
7. "I Would Die 4 U" (Prince and The Revolution) 2:49
8. "Baby I'm a Star" (Prince and The Revolution) 4:24
9. "Purple Rain" (Prince and The Revolution) 8:41


  • Prince – lead vocals and various instruments
  • Wendy Melvoin – guitar and vocals (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9)
  • Lisa Coleman – keyboards and vocals (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9)
  • Matt Fink – keyboards (1, 2, 7, 8, 9)
  • Brown Mark – bass (1, 2, 7, 8, 9)
  • Bobby Z. – drums and percussion (1, 2, 7, 8, 9)
  • Novi Novog – violin and viola (2, 8, 9)
  • David Coleman – cello (2, 8, 9)
  • Suzie Katayama – cello (2, 8, 9)
  • Apollonia – co-lead vocals (2)
  • Jill Jones – background vocals (2) [8]

Early configurations[edit]

Prince configured at least two unique track listings of Purple Rain prior to setting the final running order.[37] The 7 November 1983 and 12 March 1984 configurations are listed below. The majority of changes are edits to "Let's Go Crazy" and "Computer Blue" in order to include "When Doves Cry" and "Take Me with U" in the final running order.


  1. "When Doves Cry"
  2. "17 Days"
  • "Let's Go Crazy" (US #1, US R&B #1, US Dance #1, UK #7, Australia #10)
  1. "Let's Go Crazy"
  2. "Erotic City"
  1. "Purple Rain"
  2. "God" (vocal)
  3. "God" (instrumental) — UK version only
  1. "I Would Die 4 U"
  2. "Another Lonely Christmas"
  1. "Take Me with U"
  2. "Baby I'm a Star"
  • "Let's Go Crazy" and "Take Me with U" were released as a double A-side single in the UK in 1985.



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[63] 6× Platinum 600,000^
France (SNEP)[64] Platinum 338,600[65]
Germany (BVMI)[66] 3× Gold 750,000^
Japan 197,000[43]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[67] 5× Platinum 75,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[68] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[69] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[70] 13× Platinum 13,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  • Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
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  6. ^ Staff (5 March 2012). "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 
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  8. ^ a b "Album: Purple Rain - Prince Vault". princevault.com. 
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  16. ^ Q, June 2000
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  19. ^ Browne, David (21 September 1990). "Purple Products". Entertainment Weekly. No. #32. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
Billboard 200 number-one album
August 4, 1984 – January 18, 1985
Succeeded by
Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
Preceded by
Breaking Hearts by Elton John
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
August 13 – 19, 1984
Succeeded by
Rodney Rude by Rodney Rude
Preceded by
The Unforgettable Fire by U2
Dutch Mega Chart number-one album
October 27, 1984 – November 19, 1984
Succeeded by
Make It Big by Wham!